Christianity and Social Change in Contemporary Africa: Volume One
247 Pages
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Christianity and Social Change in Contemporary Africa: Volume One


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Learn more
247 Pages


This volume brings together seven empirically grounded contributions by African social scientists of different disciplinary backgrounds. The authors explore the social impact of religious innovation and competition in present day Africa. They represent a selection from an interdisciplinary initiative that made 23 research grants for theologians and social scientists to study Christianity and social change in contemporary Africa. These contributions focus on a variety of dynamics in contemporary African religion (mostly Christianity), including gender, health and healing, social media, entrepreneurship, and inter-religious borrowing and accommodation. The volume seeks to enhance understanding of religion�s vital presence and power in contemporary Africa. It reveals problems as well as possibilities, notably some ethical concerns and psychological maladies that arise in some of these new movements, notably neo-Pentecostal and militant fundamentalist groups. Yet the contributions do not fixate on African problems and victimization. Instead, they explore sources of African creativity, resiliency and agency. The book calls on scholars of religion and religiosity in Africa to invest new conceptual and methodological energy in understanding what it means to be actively religious in Africa today.



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Published 25 May 2020
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EAN13 9789956551408
Language English
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Christianity and Social Change in Contemporary Africa (Volume 1)Edited by Francis B. Nyamnjoh & Joel A. CarpenterLangaa Research & Publishing CIG Mankon, Bamenda
Publisher:LangaaRPCIG Langaa Research & Publishing Common Initiative Group P.O. Box 902 Mankon Bamenda North West Region Cameroon Distributed in and outside N. America by African Books Collective
ISBN-10: 9956-551-99-6
ISBN-13: 978-9956-551-99-6
©Francis B. Nyamnjoh & Joel A. Carpenter 2020 All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, mechanical or electronic, including photocopying and recording, or be stored in any information storage or retrieval system, without written permission from the publisher
Notes on Contributors Francis B. Nyamnjoh, School of African and Gender Studies, Anthropology and Linguistics, Faculty of Humanities, University of Cape Town, South Africa. Email:; Joel A. Carpenter, Nagel Institute for the Study of World Christianity, Calvin University, Grand Rapids, USA. Email: Damaris Seleina Parsitau(Ph.D.) is a sociologist of religion and gender with a focus on Pentecostal Christianity and gender. She served from 2012 to 2018 as the Director of Egerton University’s Institute of Women, Gender and Development Studies, a Centre of excellence in Kenya for gender research, leadership, mentorship, policy making and advocacy for gender equity and equality. She has also been a visiting fellow at the University of South Africa, the University of Cambridge, the University of Edinburgh, the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C, and at Harvard University. Email: Mary N. Getuiis the Director of Quality Assurance and Academic Programmes at the Catholic University of Eastern Africa and a full professor in the Department of Religious Studies. Her areas of research interest in which she has published widely include religion, education, culture, gender and health. Email: Nema C. Aluku has over 15 years of experience in Community Development and HIV programming in Sub-Saharan Africa working in NGO, academic, and community settings. She was the Health Programs Specialist at World Renew Eastern and Southern Africa Ministry Teams during the development of this manuscript. Email:
William T. Story is an assistant professor in the Department of Community and Behavioural Health at the University of Iowa’s College of Public Health. His research focuses on household- and community-level factors that are critical to the improvement of health outcomes—especially among women and children—in resource-poor countries. Email: Joana Salifu Yendork, Ph.D. is a lecturer at the Department of Psychology, University of Ghana. She has published on the psychological well-being of vulnerable children. Her research interests include the exploration of risks and protective factors for vulnerable children’s well-being and the influence of religion and spirituality on mental health. Lily Kpobi is a lecturer and a clinical psychologist at the Department of Psychiatry, University of Ghana School of Medicine and Dentistry. Her research areas include tracing and understanding the history of mental health and care in Ghana and the unique roles religious and spiritual factors in Ghana. Elizabeth Anokyewaa Sarfohas an MPhil in Clinical Psychology from the University of Ghana. Her research interests include the exploration of cultural dimensions of personality as well as religious and spiritual underpinnings of the Ghanaian culture. Edlyne E. Anugwom, Professor of Sociology in the University of Nigeria Nsukka. His current research interests include development, labour, natural resources conflict, climate change, and terrorism in Africa. He is also the current Secretary-General of the Pan African Anthropologists Association (PAAA). Email:;. Tapiwa Praise Mapuranga is an Associate Professor in the department of Religious Studies, Classics and Philosophy of the University of Zimbabwe. She offers courses on women and religion and sociology of religion at both undergraduate and postgraduate
levels. She is currently serving as a Sabbatical Fellow at the Zimbabwe Ezekiel Guti University (ZEGU). Her research interests are in the areas of gender and sexualities. One of her latest publications is ‘Gospel Music in Zimbabwe: Selected Women’s Voices’, in Sounds of Life: Music, Identity and Politics in Zimbabwe, ed. Fainos Mangena, Ezra Chitando, and Itai Muwati (Cambridge: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2016), pp. 34-49. Email: Stéphan de Beeris director of the Centre for Contextual Ministry and teaches practical theology at the University of Pretoria. He writes extensively on faith in the city; homelessness and housing; and the church’s role in urban community transformation. As an urbanist-theologian he is interested in the spirituality of urban space, spatial justice and critical conversations between theology and urban planning. R. Drew Smithprofessor of urban ministry at Pittsburgh is Theological Seminary, and is co-convener of the Transatlantic Roundtable on Religion and Race. He is the editor of multiple journal collections and eight books on religion and public life, and has recently authored a book on contemporary black clergy activism. Henrietta M. Nyamnjohis a Research Fellow at African Centre for Cities and Environmental and Geographical Science, University of Cape Town. Her research interests include: migration and mobility, transnational studies, migrants’ urban space appropriation, and religion in the context of migration. She is the author of a study on the use of information and communication technologies amongst mobile Cameroonian migrants in South Africa, The Netherlands and Cameroon, titled Bridging Mobilities: ICTs appropriation by Cameroonians in South Africa and The Netherlands. (Bamenda: Langaa, 2013). Email:;
Table of Contents Preface.............................................................................. ix Chapter 1 Introduction: Christianity and Social Change in Contemporary Africa ..........................1 Francis B. Nyamnjoh & Joel A. Carpenter Chapter 2 Women without Limits and Limited Women: Pentecostal Women Navigating between Empowerment and Disempowerment in Kenya .......................................................................... 23 Damaris Seleina Parsitau Chapter 3 Religious Collaboration Enhances Patient Satisfaction among Faith-Based Groups and Health Facilities in Western Kenya ............57 Mary N. Getui, Nema C. Aluku, & William T. Story Chapter 4 Is Contemporary Christianity Promoting or Hindering Mental Health in Africa? An Exploration of the Impact of Charismatic Church Activities and Doctrines on the Mental Well-Being of Selected Ghanaian Congregants .............81 Joana Salifu Yendork, Lily Kpobi, & Elizabeth Anokyewaa Sarfo vii
Chapter 5 New Imaginations of Youth Agency: Boko Haram and the Innovative Gospel of Terror in Nigeria......................................................... 113 Edlyne E. Anugwom Chapter 6 ‘Battling for Souls: Contesting for Space’? African Traditional Religions and Pentecostalism in Zimbabwe .........................................141 Tapiwa Praise Mapuranga Chapter 7 Religious Innovation and Competition amidst Urban Social Change: Pretoria Case Study......................................................... 171 Stephan de Beer & R. Drew Smith Chapter 8 “When Are You Going to Change Those Stones to Phones?” Social Media Appropriation by Pentecostal Churches in Cape Town ................................................. 201 Henrietta M. Nyamnjoh
Preface It is with much enthusiasm I introduce and welcome readers to this book onChristianity and Social Change in Contemporary Africa, steered by the editors, Francis B. Nyamnjoh and Joel A. Carpenter. These richly diverse essays, that make up this volume, form part of the research outputs and findings of a sub-project ‘Religious Innovation and Competition: Their Impact in Contemporary Africa’ conducted within a very impressive research initiative, ‘Christianity and Social Change in Contemporary Africa’, funded by the John Templeton Foundation in collaboration with the Nagel Institute for the Study of World Christianity, Calvin College, Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA. The interdisciplinary research project took place in 11 sub-Saharan African countries from January 2016 to March 2017. This research initiative brought together African social scientists of different disciplinary orientations, but grounded in fieldwork ethnography, to interrogate the social impact of religious innovation and competition in contemporary Africa. This cohort of researchers, in conversation with theologians as collaborators, explored Christianity and social change in contemporary Africa, teasing out the complex dynamism of contemporary African religiosity through the prism of gender, health and healing, social media, entrepreneurship, and mutual religious encounter and exchange. The essays reveal inherent concerns and contradictions that are characteristic of new religious imaginaries on the one hand, but also the hallmarks of agency, creativity, innovation, and resilience that these religious mobilities engender in the face of social change. As the editors aptly remark: “the research and learning reflected in this volume may enhance understanding of religion’s vital presence and power in contemporary Africa.” I therefore enjoin readers, particularly scholars of religion and religiosity in Africa, to heed the clarion call of these authors “to invest new conceptual and methodological energy in researching ix